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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Genesis 22

Verses 1-2

GENESIS - CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Verses 1, 2:

This trial of Abraham’s faith came many years after the events of chapter 21. The exact time is uncertain. Isaac was at this time likely about thirty years old. He was at least fully grown, capable of making a three day’s journey of more than sixty miles. This trial of faith did not come from Satan (as 1Ch 21:1 with 2Sa 14:1), nor from Abraham himself. It came from God (lit. the Elohim).

"Tempt," nasah, is "to try, or prove." There was no solicitation to sin, in the modern sense of temptation (see Jas 1:13). The language implies that God appeared to Abraham in a vision by night, and sought to try his faith by asking him to offer as a free-will sacrifice, not a lamb, as was customary, but his only son Isaac.

"Moriah" is traditionally identified with Jerusalem. Solomon built the Temple on Mt Moriah (1Ch 3:1), where God appeared to David (1Ch 21:15-22:1).

God did not ask Abraham to offer Isaac in spiritual surrender, but as a literal burnt-offering, in the place He would point out. Doubtless this was strange to Abraham, and was not according to previous command. Though not uncommon among the heathen, human sacrifice has never been a part of Divine worship of Jehovah God. Abraham demonstrated his faith, by setting out on the journey without delay.

Verses 3-14

Verses 3-14:

Verses 1-8: Abraham, Isaac, and two men-servants made the journey from Beersheba to Moriah where God (the Elohim) had instructed him to go. Travelers from Beer-sheba are unable to see Mount Moriah until they are within about three miles of it. Before they reached the mountain, Abraham instructed his servants to remain behind with the ass, while he and Isaac proceeded to the place of worship. The reason: the sacrifice about to be made was too sacred for the eyes of any but God to see.

Abraham’s statement to the young men that he and Isaac would return is not a dissimulation. He fully expected this to be true. Even though God had commanded him to take Isaac’s life, such was Abraham’s faith that he believed God would raise him from the dead, in order to fulfill His promise that Isaac would become the father of many nations and the heir to the promises of the Covenant (Heb 11:17-19).

Abraham gave the wood for the sacrifice to Isaac, for him to carry to the altar site. This brings to mind that Abraham’s Seed (Christ, Ga 3:16) would one day bear the wooden cross upon which He would become the true Sacrifice. Abraham himself carried the instruments of death: the knife, and the fire (perhaps in a brazier). Apparently Abraham had not informed Isaac of the manner of the sacrifice, for Isaac asked about the lamb for the offering. Once more Abraham’s faith is evident in his reply, "God will provide."

Verses 9-14: When they arrived at the site, Abraham prepared the altar, and laid the wood in order. Likely he had by this time informed Isaac that he was to be the sacrifice. He then bound Isaac and laid him on the altar. It is evident that Isaac must have fully agreed with what Abraham was doing. He was a fully grown young man, capable of successful resistance to any attempt to force him to submit. And Abraham was well over one hundred years of age, probably about one hundred thirty. He would not have had the strength to overpower Isaac had he resisted.

As Abraham stretched out his hand to plunge the sacrificial knife into Isaac, the "Angel of the Lord" (Maleach Jehovah, see Ge 16:7) spoke from heaven and interposed for Isaac’s deliverance. The urgency of his call is evident in the repetition of Abraham’s name.

Abraham had fully surrendered the most precious of all his possessions: his beloved son. He totally committed all he had to Jehovah God. There was no need for further trial. From this point on there would never be doubt as to the quality of his faith (Jas 2:21-23). This was the outward demonstration of his inner faith, a total and complete commitment.

The sacrifice must still be made. Abraham looked behind him and there, caught in a thicket by his horns, was a ram. Abraham offered this ram as a burnt offering in the place of Isaac. And he gave a new name to the place: Jehovah-jireh, "Jehovah will provide." At the time of the writing of Genesis, this mount was still known by the proverb, "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen."

There was deep spiritual significance in this event. Up to this point, Isaac was merely a natural blessing to Abraham. But in the sacrifice of Isaac, Abraham received him "in a figure" from the dead (Heb 11:17-19). Now he was from thenceforth a spiritual blessing, the heir of God’s promises to Abraham. It is likely this event had a profound effect on Isaac, as well as on Abraham. It must have instilled a deeper conviction of his own faith.

Verses 15-19

Verses 15-19:

Following the sacrifice of the ram, the Angel of the Lord (Maleach Jehovah) spoke the second time to Abraham. The first time was to arrest his hand as he was about to slay Isaac. This second time was to reaffirm the terms of the Covenant made many years earlier.

Following these events, Abraham and Isaac rejoined the two servants, and together they returned to Beer-sheba. There they continued to live, possibly until the death of Sarah.

Verses 20-24

Verses 20-24:

Likely it was not long after the return from Moriah to Beer-sheba that news came to Abraham of his brother Nahor’s family, in Haran in Mesopotamia. One of the eight sons of Nahor and Milcah was Bethuel (dwelling of God), whose name is an indication of his piety. Bethuel became the father of a daughter named Rebekah. As the daughter of Nahor’s youngest son, she was likely about the same age of Isaac.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 22". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-22.html. 1985.